Documenting Surveillance Projects: Bluebeam Revu

Published Aug 02, 2013 04:00 AM
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In the construction industry, the PDF file is king. Everything from RFPs to close-out documents are generated in PDF so they can be easily and quickly distributed electronically. However, being able to effectively markup, estimate from, and manage all of these construction PDF files can be limited and cumbersome with most PDF editors or readers. Sharing PDF documents with applications such as Dropbox, Skydrive and Google Drive is effective but leaves a lot to be desired when collaborating on a project with others when it comes to tracking and managing changes or revisions.

In this note, we examine one option from Bluebeam, called Revu, that is being used to solve some of these problems.

What is Bluebeam Revu?

Bluebeam's Revu 11 is a software application geared toward the construction and A&E [link no longer available] environments that overcomes the above obstacles to create, adapt, collaborate and manage digital workflows via PDF to streamline the construction document process. Many larger construction companies and A&E firms are effectively using Bluebeam Revu's features to improve their workflow, save time and money and increase productivity. Among the features Bluebeam Revu offers:

  • Simpler generation of PDF files with one-button creationbatch processing and the ability to create 3D files.
  • A powerful PDF editor that allows users to easily edit, markup [link no longer available], track markups and add their own symbol libraries (called Tool Chests), and custom stamps. Drawings can be scaled and measurements determined on-screen.
  • A File Access feature to easily find and access recent PDF files and a sets feature that combines documents into a single tabbed document which can be easily searched, sorted, filtered and organized.  
  • The Bluebeam Studio feature allows users to collaborate in the cloud in real time, with the ability to track, sort and filter annotations, notes and revisions. Non-users can download the free Bluebeam Vu viewer that can allow them to participate in Studio collaboration sessions.  
  • A free online Bluebeam University with an extensive collection of tutorials and videos.

Video Surveillance Applications

In the video surveillance market, contractors and integrators will find Bluebeam Revu useful for:

  • Site Surveys and Field Reports (using a tablet PC or iPad)
  • Take-offs & Estimating - Being able to scale, annotate and mark-up bid drawings, perform take-offs and generate spreadsheets with equipment counts for more accurate estimates.
  • RFI Generation - Create and track RFI's easily and associate them with pages of the drawings or specifications.
  • Easily prepare proposal and simple shop drawings or service projects, reducing the reliance on and workload of CAD technicians.
  • Easily create PDF drawings, submittals, and close-out documents in manageable sets.
  • Collaborate between different people and departments more quickly and effectively.
  • Creating real-time "red-lines" or "as-built" drawings.

In addition, A&E's should find Bluebeam useful for:

  • Shop drawing and submittal reviews
  • Document Comparison
  • Easily create, redline and markup 2-D and 3-D CAD drawings (Revu CAD Version required)
  • Simplified collaboration with other firms, contractors, and owner's reps.
  • Integration with Bentley ProjectWise [link no longer available] and Microsoft SharePoint

Bluebeam in Action

In this first video, we demonstrate laying out a very simple small surveillance system.

In this next video, we show how to create a Studio collaboration session.


In this final video we show how to review and track changes in a Studio collaboration.

Pricing & Comparison with Adobe Acrobat

Bluebeam offers Revu in three versions:

  • Revu Standard for $179
  • Revu CAD (which has all the Standard version features and interfaces with most major CAD platforms) for $229
  • Revu Extreme (which has all of the CAD version features and includes features such as OCR and redaction) for $299.

Significant discounts are offered for volume licensing. Optional annual software maintenance agreements that include premium support, and minor/major version upgrades are priced at $49, $59 and $69 per version respectively. An iPad version of Revu is available for $9.99 at the Apple iTunes store30-Day free trial versions of Revu are available for evaluation purposes.

By comparison, Adobe's Acrobat XI Standard is $139, and the Pro version is $199. While Adobe invented the PDF format in the early 90's and Acrobat is the leading PDF generation and editing software program, it lacks the construction-specific features that Bluebeam includes. For only $40 more in price, much construction-related functionality is gained.


  • Revu Standard, CAD and Extreme versions are only available for Windows operating systems (XP SP3, XP Tablet, Vista 7 & 8). No Mac version is available.
  • There is no version available for Android tablets.
  • Windows tablet users need to purchase the $179 standard version but the slightly more limited iPad version is only $9.99

Comparing and Complementing AutoCAD

AutoCAD is the biggest name in design software both in construction and surveillance (see our tutorial), begging the question how Bluebeam Revu compares and/or complements AutoCAD. Unless you are a small integrator or doing simple projects, it will not replace AutoCAD. However, it is very useful for non-CAD users such as salespersons, estimators, service managers, technicians and field installers to easily create simple layouts and markup PDF drawings generated by AutoCAD. This can improve the workflow process and reduce the dependency on CAD operators, as well as expensive software and workstations. AutoCAD will still be the preferred drafting programs large projects, Bluebeam compliments AutoCAD in this case, and allows everyone to participate in the process from sales to installation.

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